1 Samuel 25:11

Sermon preached on January 10, 2010 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

It has been estimated that nearly one-third of J.S. Bach's compositions were lost after his death. They were so undervalued that they just weren't taken care of. One of the stories I heard was that his manuscripts were so underappreciated that the paper they were written on was considered more valuable than the music and so they were used by one of the local restaurants to wrap food, just like today fish and chips is sometimes wrapped in newspaper.

Can you imagine? It is amazing that one of the world's greatest composers should have his music so undervalued. Bach wrote his music help people glorify God, to raise their spirits and help them appreciate God and find strength and help in Jesus Christ. Instead of using his manuscripts that way, they were treated as mere paper. What a horrible waste. Bach's music was a great gift to the world, but much of it was just thrown away. His manuscripts were not used as they should have been. Using them to wrap food an then throwing them away was using them the exact opposite of the way they should have been used.

That's also the way it was with Nabal and his wealth. He used it in the exact opposite way that he should have. God had given him great wealth. Part of the reason it was given to him was so that he would be able to help David. God put Nabal in a position to do good to David. David was the Lord's anointed. According to God's instructions Samuel had anointed David to be the future king over Israel. Nabal was in a position to nourish David and his men and sustain their lives for awhile. Nabal had the means and opportunity to help David. It was exactly like Ephesians 2:10 where it describes our good works as being, (ESV)

"prepared beforehand".

Everything was arranged for Nabal to help David. God gave him the goods and the opportunity to do it. But Nabal refused.

Nabal was a fool. He had contempt for God's Word, for His promises, for the Lord's anointed. He didn't use what God had given him to help David and his men. His actions are typical of a fool. In Isaiah 32:6 the prophet describes a fool, a 'nabal'.

"For the fool speaks folly, his mind is busy with evil:
He practices ungodliness
and spreads error concerning the LORD;
the hungry he leaves empty
and from the thirsty he withholds water."

That's the way of a fool. Nabal was like that. His behavior was evil. Three things in this chapter testify to that. First of all there is the fact that God put him to death. In verse 38 we read,

"About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died."

Then in verse 25 we see it in Abigail's to David. She said,

"May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal.
He is just like his name—his name is Fool,
and folly goes with him."

We also see it in David's words when he learned that Nabal was dead. David said,

"Praise be to the Lord,
who has upheld my cause against Nabal
for treating me with contempt.
He has kept his servant from doing wrong
and has brought Nabal's wrongdoing
down on his own head."

None of us what to end up like Nabal. In order that we not make the same mistake as Nabal and the rich fool, we should keep certain biblical principles in mind—principles that Nabal neglected.

The first principle that Nabal neglected was

the knowledge that God owned everything and that his possessions were not really his own.

Nabal didn't recognize that everything he had was given to him by God and that it was still owned by God. Nabal thought that his wealth was his. He thought he had earned it or shrewdly built it up. He said to David's messengers,

"Why should I take my bread and water,
and the meat
I have slaughtered for my shearers,"

But with Nabal it was all, "I" and 'my'. It was his bread, water and meat. It was for his use and the use of those who belonged to him.

But Nabal was wrong. He wasn't the ultimate owner of these things. Those things belonged to God and were merely loaned to Nabal.

We're just permitted to use our wealth and have control of it for a short time. This is obvious from 1 Timothy 6:7 where the apostle Paul wrote,

"For we brought nothing into the world,
and we can take nothing out of it."

Nothing is really ours. We don't bring anything in and we don't take anything out. It belongs to God. We see this as well from Psalm 50:9–12 where God said to the people of Israel,

"I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,
for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know every bird in the mountains,
and the creatures of the field are mine.
If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it."

We also see in Scripture that

God who determines who He gives His wealth to.

No one is made rich by their own efforts or hard work. It can certainly seem that way, but that's not the ultimate cause of riches or wealth. As we read in James 1:17 the apostle wrote,

"Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,"

In 1 Timothy 6:17 the apostle Paul urged the rich not to put their hope in wealth, but to put their hope in God,

"who richly provides us
with everything for our enjoyment."

Nothing you have has come to you because you've deserved it, earned it, or been smart enough to acquire it. It's all of grace. 1 Corinthians 4:7 is not about wealth as such, but I think primarily about spiritual gifts. But the truth of what it says could be legitimately applied to wealth.

"For who makes you different from anyone else?
What do you have that you did not receive?
And if you did receive it,
why do you boast as though you did not?"

What is said of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:11 could just as easily be said of material wealth,

"All these are the work of one and the same Spirit,
and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."

We see this in Jeremiah 27:4–5 where the prophet wrote,

"This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:
'Tell this to your masters:
With my great power and outstretched arm
I made the earth and its people
and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please.'"

Everything belongs to God. He gives it to us to use for awhile. Not only is your life to be dedicated to God's glory, but everything you have, including your wealth, is to be used for God's glory.

The second principle that Nabal neglected was the fact that

God gives us wealth to use to help others.

Our wealth is given to us to be used for God's glory. Your wealth was given to you by Jesus Christ to be used for His glory. As Colossians 1:16 says,

"For by him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by him and for him."

All material things, all wealth, was created for the glory of Jesus Christ. That's it's proper use.

Nabal was supposed to be a good steward of his wealth and use it for God's glory. Nabal should have used his wealth to help David. Instead of doing that he tried to keep as much as he could for his own use. He was like the rich fool that Jesus spoke about in Luke 12:16–21. His lands produced an abundance, so much so that he had no where to store them. So he said,

"This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns
and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain
and my goods. And I'll say to myself,
'You have plenty of good things laid up for many years.
Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."

But God said to him,

"You fool! This very night your life
will be demanded from you.
Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?"

Then Jesus said,

"This is how it will be with anyone
who stores up things for himself
but is not rich toward God."

So the great lesson we are to take from our passage is that we are to be rich toward God by helping others with our wealth. That's the way to be wise. That's the way to be close to God, to be pleasing to Him. Jesus made this quite clear in the story of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31–46. Jesus said,

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.
All the nations will be gathered before him,
and he will separate the people one
from another as a shepherd
separates the sheep from the goats.
He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father;
take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you
since the creation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Then the righteous will answer him,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you something to drink?
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison
and go to visit you?'
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth,
whatever you did for one of the least
of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you who are cursed,
into the eternal fire prepared
for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
I was a stranger and you did not invite me in,
I needed clothes and you did not clothe me,
I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
They also will answer,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry
or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes
or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do
for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
Then they will go away to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."

How you treat others shows your heart. It shows whether you love God or not. It is one factor that shows whether you are going to heaven or to hell. There are other things to be considered yes, but how you treat others shows whether your faith in Jesus Christ is genuine or not.

These principles have great implications for us. If we know these principles are true, then that should make a dramatic difference in how we live.

First, it means that

you should trust God and be generous toward others, even when you don't have very much.

Perhaps Nabal thought he only had enough for himself and his workers. I don't think that was the case, but let's assume it was. Could he still afford to be generous toward David? Absolutely.

You can be generous even when you don't have very much. In such a situation trust God to take care of you. Remember how Jesus commended the widow who put her last two copper coins into the temple treasury? Jesus said that she put more in than all the others. (Luke 21:2-4) God was pleased with her. Do you think that God let her go without?

Remember how God took care of the widow of Zarephath when she gave Elijah the last of her food? Her jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry until the famine ended. Proverbs 3:9–10 says,

"Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine."

As we read in 2 Corinthians 9:6–11,

"Remember this:
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
Each man should give
what he has decided in his heart to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that in all things at all times, having all that you need,
you will abound in every good work.
As it is written:
He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.
Now he who supplies seed to the sower
and bread for food will also supply
and increase your store of seed and will enlarge
the harvest of your righteousness.
You will be made rich in every way
so that you can be generous on every occasion,
and through us your generosity
will result in thanksgiving to God."

You can trust God. He owns everything. He gives it to whomever He wants. Some people try to gain wealth but it eludes them. As we read in Proverbs 28:22,

"A stingy man is eager to get rich
and is unaware that poverty awaits him."

Proverbs 11:24 says,

"One man gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty."

God determines these things. You can trust Him.

Now don't misunderstand. I'm not saying that godliness is a sure way to wealth. Neither should wealth be the reason we seek to be godly. 1 Timothy 6:5 refers to those,

"who have been robbed of the truth
and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain."

Riches is never to be our goal. In 1 Timothy 6:6–10 the apostle Paul wrote,

"But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world,
and we can take nothing out of it.
But if we have food and clothing,
we will be content with that.
People who want to get rich fall into temptation
and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires
that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
Some people, eager for money,
have wandered from the faith
and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Riches is never to be our goal. The glory of God is to be our goal. Richness in good deeds, richness in helping others is the way to achieve that.

Secondly, this should help us to love others.

It's no good to help others if you don't have love. As we read in 1 Corinthians 13:3,

"If I give all I possess to the poor
and surrender my body to the flames,
but have not love, I gain nothing."

God wants you to be generous, not just in an external way, but with your heart.

Sometimes in our hearts we don't want to be generous toward those in need. Be generous anyway. Do the right thing and pray that God will have your heart follow.

Thirdly, for Christians, how thankful you ought to be to God, to Jesus Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 8:9 the apostle Paul wrote,

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor,
so that you through his poverty might become rich."

Everything you have has been given to you by God. Every good thing you have comes to you because of the grace of Jesus Christ—because He became poor for you.

Rejoice in Him. Give glory to Him. Use your wealth for His glory.

Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians,

don't be like Nabal. Don't be a fool.

Nabal perished because of his folly. For awhile he thought he was so smart. He was so wise in his own eyes. He put himself far above David, far above his own servants. He perished with such an ignoble end. So too did the rich fool that Jesus spoke about in Luke 12. What an unexpected and ignoble end. But Jesus said, (Luke 12:21)

"This is how it will be with anyone
who stores up things for himself
but is not rich toward God."

Don't let that happen to you. Go to Jesus now.